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Living in Poverty: 40 Million Americans, Including Children and Working Poor
By SAM GUSTIN
Posted 6:15 PM 03/17/10 Economy
If the word "poverty" conjures up starving children in Africa, prepare to be shocked: nearly 40 million Americans, or 13.2% of the population in the richest country on the planet, lived at or below the official poverty level in 2008, according to new data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's an increase of 2.5 million over 2007.
What's more, that figure includes 14.1 million people under the age of 18, or 19% of all children, up from 13.3 million and 18% in 2007. In other words, nearly one in five American kids live in poverty.
One of the fastest-growing impoverished segments is the "working poor," adults who spent at least 27 weeks either in the labor force or looking for work. Of the 39.8 million Americans living at or below the poverty level in 2008, some 8.9 million adults were defined as the "working poor," an increase of 1.4 million from 2007.Additionally, 4.5 million families were counted among the working poor in 2008, up from 4.2 million in 2007.
The new data reinforce the toll the Great Recession has taken on working families and the poor across the United States. After three years of annual income increases, the real median household income declined by 3.6% between 2007 and 2008, from $52,163 to $50,303, the Census bureau found.
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